Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 October 2011) . . Page.. 4588 ..
legislation given the ACT’s history in departing from that uniformity were quite ironic.
The Canberra Liberals will not be supporting the Greens’ amendments. However, in doing so I want to thank Mr Rattenbury for his briefing on the matter and for the additional material he provided. Boiling it down, there seem to be two elements that drive Mr Rattenbury’s amendments to remove preventative detention from the toolbox of counter-terrorism activity.
The first is that preventative detention is unjustified on human rights grounds. The government’s explanatory statement goes to some length to justify the engagement of human rights on the grounds of proportionality. The scrutiny of bills committee also considered the question of human rights, but not so much on the question of preventative detention as on the legislation as a whole. The Canberra Liberals are satisfied that the proportionality test is satisfied.
We have all seen the horrors and devastation of terrorist activity around the world. We have seen what this activity does to families and communities, to infrastructure and to the freedom of movement. The impact of terrorism is so profound that it brings fundamental change to our way of life, a change that has lasted a long time. Strong messages need to be sent to those who would seek to bring about that fundamental change. Police should be given every possible power to counter such ambitions, but in saying so that does not mean that they have unfettered powers. It should be every possible power.
The rights of the people of the ACT in general to a safe, secure, free and democratic living environment far outweigh the rights of a terrorist or a suspected terrorist. Preventative detention is the extra arrow in the quiver of the police that, firstly, sends a clear message to a would-be terrorist that we are serious about preserving our safety and security, our freedom and our democracy. Secondly, it gives the community some additional peace of mind that those values are held near and dear.
The second element driving Mr Rattenbury’s amendment is his view that the police have sufficient powers under other laws of the territory and the commonwealth to achieve a similar end. In making that assertion, Mr Rattenbury also notes the view of New South Wales law enforcement officers, expressed in an August 2011 report of the New South Wales Ombudsman on New South Wales counter-terrorism laws, that preventative detention is difficult and operationally impractical.
The explanatory statement accompanying Mr Rattenbury’s amendments goes to some length to analyse how the existing laws work. But I have also taken a briefing from the JACS Directorate on the matters that Mr Rattenbury has put forward. There are differing views as to the extent of the existing powers and their application. The preventative detention powers in the counter-terrorism law are clear and I am satisfied that the arguments and position put forward by the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, as outlined by the minister in his comments today, are better than the ambiguity or uncertainty that would result from taking away preventative detention powers.